Meople News: The Wine Culture of ’84

Kuznia Gier

The polish publisher is really carving out a niche in the “games that make you lose friends, but you still love them” genre of boardgames. Alcatraz: The Scapegoat last year was a first step in that direction, and this year there are two new entries in that category, both by Rafal Cywicki, Krzysztof Cywicki andKrzysztof Hanusz. For both games a first version of the English rules is available now. Wording and visuals may still change, but the rules themselves are pretty much final.

First, there is Alcatraz: Maximum Security, the expansion for the prison break game. With a spot for the fifth player comes a new role to the game: the Sucker. He’s only in the game when playing with five and who holds the role changes every round. He doesn’t get any special abilities, he doesn’t get any reward when a task is completed, he’s just a sucker. Except when he completes a task alone, then he alone gets the reward. The other new character in the game is not a player, but he will be a giant pain in the buttocks: the Chief of Security. He’s the unbribable, undistractable uberguard of the prison, making your breakout really hard when he’s around. Alcatraz: Maximum Security also contains three new locations and new rules variants. (The rules on Boardgamegeek)

1984: Animal Farm had me confused for a bit: it sports the names of two Orwell novels, but the only connection to the story is that the animal revolution happened and humans are a thing of the past. The new masters of the world quickly find themselves in a cold war situation, and that’s where we jump in. Each round we compete for supremacy in five regions of the world that can usually only be achieved by entering an alliance. But alliances are brittle things, and your ally in one region may be your enemy in another. Supremacy in a region gives you influence tokens – a different kind per region – that you can use on actions to, you guessed it, improve your chances to control a region. Complicating things further, each pair of neighbours have a common goal for more victory points and you quickly get trapped in a web of conflicting interests and alliances. After reading the rules, 1984: Animal Farm advanced from “very curious about it” to “most awaited Essen 2012”.

Fantasy Flight Games

Star Wars: The Card Game (Image by Fantasy Flight Games)
Star Wars: The Card Game (Image by Fantasy Flight Games)

I do wonder if all those Living Card Games are actually profitable. I mean, they have overlapping target audiences, so how many people are buying the expansion packs for one or more of these games? Hands up, people, let us know. Anyway, there’s a new one coming: Star Wars: The Card Game. It’s a two player game with one player as the Empire / Dark Side and the other as the Rebels / Light Side, but the first preview does not reveal much about the level of asymmetry in the game. An asymmetric game would certainly be fitting. You’ll be fighting battles with cards representing everything you hate or love from the Star Wars universe, with a new combat system that uses the cards as units, but also to bid for initiative.

Another new card game, this one apparently not living, is coming. Just like winter. Winter is also coming. Game of Thrones: The Card Game is based on the HBO series, meaning you get TV stills as card illustrations. Mechanically, the game is a streamlined version of the Game of Thrones LCG, probably streamlined enough that non-gamers who enjoyed the series can play it easily.

Finally in FFG card game news, Android: Netrunner is now available. But if your into it, you probably already downloaded it from Fantasy Flight’s secret servers.

Z-Man Games

We knew Clash of Cultures would not be a light game that you learn in five minutes. The rulebook confirms that now, it has 24 pages. So be prepared for a learning curve.

Portal Publishing

In this week’s preview video for Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island Ignacy Trzewiczek talks about how the game reacts to you. Unlike most other coop games, there is not one stack of random things that can happen, there is one for each action you can take. So when you explore, you will draw a card that tells you what you find in your exploration. Like tigers. I’m sure they will be lovely. When you build something new in your settlement, the event card may collapse the roof of your new building. It reminds me a bit of location cards in Arkham Horror, only the card stacks are not per location but per player action. These cards here, however, go beyond Arkham: they come back to haunt you, and that way the game tells a story. Most cards you draw go to a special pile of event cards from which you also will have to draw later on. Then the second part of the event comes into play. For example, if you encountered a tiger earlier, and then draw the tiger card again, then the tiger followed your tracks and suddenly found you again. You get threads of the story that might come back to haunt you, so you can try to be prepared. Only you don’t know when a particular event will come back, so you’ll always be prepared for the wrong one. Listen to Ignacy himself in the video:


The rules for Brawling Barons are available now, and here’s how it looks: it’s a card game with two basic types of cards, peasants and squires. Both cards can be upgraded once they are played, farmers into buildings, which bring points, and squires into stronger military units which may bring points if you send them to the kings army. But you can also use them to attack an opponents buildings or defend your own. So the question always is: where do I play this card?

Stonemaier Games

Viticulture is a classic worker placement game of wine making, but it has everything I want from worker placement, including but not limited to: winegreeple (wine grower meeple, obviously), buyable upgrades, tough decisions because there’s too little space for everyone and winegreeple (had to mention them twice). The Kickstarter project also offers, and that’s a first as far as I know, a money back guarantee in case you don’t like the game. Jamey Stegmaier and Alan Stone must be quite certain of their game – watching the gameplay video, I think they have reason to be.

The banner image shows the fortified church of Viscri, Transylvania, Romania, one of seven fortified churches that together make up a cultural heritage site. The photo was taken by Andrei Haos and shared with a CC-BY-SA license. Thanks, Andrei!

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